Dallas Takes Step Forward To Advocate For Statewide Gambling

Written By Phil West on June 28, 2024 - Last Updated on July 11, 2024
Dallas skyline behind Cotton Bowl. Dallas City Council votes to put legal gambling on legislative agenda.

The Dallas City Council is emerging as an advocate for gambling in the next legislative session, and thanks to a development earlier this week, it’s now one step closer to that.

Council member Chad West remains an advocate for legalizing card rooms in the city in order to help reconcile a murky legal issue several years in the making, currently held up in the city’s Planning Committee. He’s also actively working to cultivate support for legalizing Texas casinos in keeping with his broad pro-business stance.

Dallas City Council votes to put legal gambling on legislative agenda

The Government Performance and Financial Management (GPFM) Committee voted 4-1 on Monday to include support for statewide legalization of gambling and card rooms as part of [Dallas’s] state legislative agenda, and the full Dallas City Council — 14 members, plus the mayor, with eight votes needed to any measure to pass — is expected to take up the full legislative agenda in September.

West, said that the GPFM vote gives a partial picture of who supports gambling on the council, with Paula Blackmon, Jesse Moreno, and Jaime Resendez joining him as yes votes and Cara Mendelsohn as the lone dissenting voice on the five-member committee. He encouraged Dallas residents to communicate with their council members.

He provided an overall positive assessment of progress, noting,

“I do feel like there is somewhat of a groundswell of support on City Council.”

Chad West remains realistic on legal gambling’s chances in 2025

West is realistic about the political climate in Texas, with much of the power to determine gambling’s future in the hands of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. He says,

Unless they are supportive of the concept of moving forward, it’s going to be hard for the legislature to whip enough votes to get it done. With that being said, it is possible, and it doesn’t hurt for Dallas to be to be supportive to let them know that we want to be on the forefront if and when the state does decide to legalize gambling.

What needs to happen is we really need to see a bipartisan effort with a courageous and respected Republican and Democrat to partner up at the state legislature. [It’s} even better if we get a senator to join in as well to work on legalizing it.

West’s motivation for involving Dallas in the effort has to do with making sure his city doesn’t get left behind should gambling get the green light. West previously told PlayTexas,

“I believe that the state is already on the path to [the] legalization of gambling. If Dallas does not find a way to mitigate/address public concerns and to capitalize on the benefits of regulated gambling, we could lose our chance to be first to market for casino opportunities, which will gladly be swallowed up by cities like Irving and Arlington.”

He has also expressed belief, including in a January WFAA-TV interview, that legalized gambling is coming soon, saying,

“I would be shocked if it doesn’t happen this session in some fashion or another. I would guess the state does something. Maybe not full legalization. Maybe just a few licenses here and there to sort of test out the waters like they did with medical marijuana. But I foresee something happening in this next session.”

As for a cohseive statewide policy on card rooms, he’s hopeful there, noting that some municipalities in Texas allow for it in adherence with the state’s current laws, while others, like Dallas, have specifically moved against them.

Photo by Jeffrey McWhorter / AP Images
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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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